Understanding the academic year

The importance of understanding the academic year and specific circumstances which make you a new or continuing student, is to make sure you:

  • complete the correct forms; and
  • receive the correct funding

Completing the wrong forms can lead to delays in your student finance being paid.

Which academic year are you?

The academic year which applies to you, depends on your course start date for that year.

You’ll be in academic year 2017/18 if your course starts between:

  • 1st August 2017 – 31st July 2018

You’ll be in academic year 2016/17 if your course starts between:

  • 1st August 2016 – 31st July 2017

Check with your university or college if you’re unsure which academic year you fall under.

When the academic year starts and ends

There are four official start dates in each academic year with each lasting 12 months. You can find the one which applies to you based on:

  • which academic year you fall under; and
  • your course start date.
If your course starts between:Your academic year will run from:

1st August – 31st December

1st September – 31st August

1st January – 31st March

1st January – 31st December

1st April – 30th June

1st April – 31st March

1st July– 31st July

1st July – 30th June

For the majority of students, each academic year will run from 1st September – 31st August. However, if your course starts later in the academic year, be mindful of this when completing any forms. For example:

  • a course starting on 10th April 2017 will be within the 2016/17 academic year running from 1st April 2017 – 31st March 2018.

Check with your university or college if you’re unsure about your course start date.

Circumstances around new and continuing students

In most cases it’s easy to identify yourself as being a new or continuing student. However, there are circumstances which need to be clarified so you find the correct information and forms.

You’ll be classed as a new student if you have:

  • changed your course from full-time to part-time (mode of study change)
  • withdrawn from your most recent course

You’ll be classed as a continuing student if you:

  • have taken a break from your course (not withdrawn) and are returning within two academic years
  • have completed a lower level qualification (HNC, HND, CertHE, DipHE, Foundation Degree or ordinary degree without Honours) as a part-time student and are going on to an Honours degree part-time without a break in studies. This is known as an end on course.

If you’re unsure about the forms to complete based on any of these or other circumstances, contact us to discuss this further.

Open University

Completing the correct form

The Open University provides a flexible approach to study with numerous start dates available. Therefore, knowing which academic year your course falls under is especially important before you complete and return any forms. If you’re unsure about which form to complete, speak to your university or college.

Studying an additional module

The Open University’s flexible approach to study allows you to change your study plans over the year. If you decide to study additional modules within your academic year, you must complete a 'CO2 Change of circumstances for part-time and postgraduate students' form.

You can find the CO2 form in the Tuition Fee Loan, Fee support and Course Grant sections after you’ve confirmed which academic year you’re in.

You should only submit the next academic years main application form (PTLC), when you’ve completed the previous academic year inclusive of any additional modules you have studied.

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